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Nolan nails victory
- Updated: April 29, 2012
One of South African cycling’s men of the moment right now, Nolan Hoffman successfully defended his title in the 106km aQuell├® Tour Durban on Sunday when he won a needle endsprint to shade the nuggety BMC team riders, before heading for Pietermaritzburg to continue his giant killing spree at the national track championships.
“This was the most brilliant team performance,” gushed Hoffman after the win. “The Tasol GT Team had a plan, and we executed it to perfection. The nine guys in the team all rode rockstar rides and got me into the right place for the sprint at the end. From there I just did what I had to do.”
Originally from Franschhoek but now Johannesburg based, Hoffman has had a fine last six months. He won the road race title at the All Africa Games in Maputo late last year. Then he won the Amashova Classic in Durban and earlier this month took the silver medal in the scratch final at the World track championships in Australia.
The Tasol GT team plans to dominate the race from start to finish came under fire on the long climb up to Pinetown where the other teams realised they needed to try and drop Hoffman. As the race turned to the new descent through Westville a four rider breakaway, which included title hopeful Johan Rabie (Bonitas), started to stress Hoffman.
“I panicked!” he said afterwards. “They had at least fifty seconds on us. I couldn’t see them. That’s when I started shouting to the team that we have to get back and take control.”
The team gradually reeled in the breakaway riders and started to dominate on the crucial homewards bound leg from the turn on the M4 coastal freeway where Tasol GT domestiques Myles van Musschoenbroek, Jean Spies and William Bush did the hard yards before Clint hendricks and James Perry stepped up to the plate.
They fended off repeated attacks, particularly from the strong Bonitas team, to send their sprinters Hoffman and David Maree into prime positions on the final turn into the home straight back towards the Moses Mabhida stadium.
“Richie Baxter pulled over and I shouted “Now Go!” and it was incredible. David Maree pulled for 200 metres and the rest was actually quite simple for me. It was the perfect lead out and an incredible team performance.”
Hoffman’s win is his second back-to-back title in the race, and his team’s third following Dean Edwards win in 2010, making them the first team to win a hat-trick of titles in this famous race.
Earlier in the race Hoffman’s teammate David Maree won the King of the Mountain hotspot at the end of the long climb up to Pinetown, while Midvaal BMC team rider Dylan Girdlestone took the sprint hotspot at the 62km mark.
Toyota Cyclelab’s Lynette Burger, who like Hoffman, rode at the All Africa Games last year, made a clean sweep of the women’s hotspot prizes, and completed her stranglehold on the race by winning the seven rider strong endsprint to claim the overall women’s title.
“We were all very aware of Nolan’s firepower,” said Girdlestone. “Coming off such goof form on the track he was always going to be hard to beat. I guess he had a 100km loosener on the track yesterday!”
Dusty Day, who won the criterium on Friday night, was also quick to heap praise on Hoffman. “Nolan Hoffman’s form can sometimes be exposed on the hills, so that’s where we try to rub him off. But I have to to say that doesn’t happen very often!”
Shortly after the prizegiving Hoffman was bundled into the team vehicle to return to Pietermaritzburg to contest the Team Pursuit and Points titles at the national track championships where his rampant form that has already seen him clinch the national titles in the Omnium and Scratch track races.
The perfect Durban weather and the full road closure went down well with the massive field of 3000 riders over the 106km and 45km rides, almost doubling the field from last year.
“There is no doubt that this race is right up there in the to five races in the country,” said Day. “the road closures and changes to the route were absolutely brilliant. It is so good to be able to race in complete safety.”